Dog blogger and broadcaster Steve Friess says he’s not going to spend $5,000 to put his dog though chemotherapy that could extend his life a year or more — and he’s going to try not to feel bad about it.
Even when he says his final goodbye to Jack in what could be less than a month.
In late October, Friess noticed the dog he’d adopted nine years ago was getting lethargic, and that his weight had dropped from his usual 11 pounds to around eight.
A vet diagnosed that Jack had an aggressive form of lymphoma that was spreading quickly through his body.
Friess did some research, checking with friends, and vets, and friends who were vets: One of the latter urged him to “do the full chemo protocol ASAP!” It could send Jack into remission for nine months, or 12 months, or even longer.
Friess and his partner researched, debated and decided against chemotherapy — not because it would be all that rough on the dog physically (they handle it much better than we do). The main reason, he admits, is the money, which, he also admits, they just doesn’t have.
There will likely be those who second guess Freiss, or maybe try to lay a guilt trip on him: Take out a loan, hit up your friends, get a second (or third) job, launch an online fundraising campaign, let me be the first to donate.
We’ve become a nation of such overflowing compassion for dogs, with such promising new medical technologies, and such handy online fundraising tools at our beck and call, that it’s easy to lose sight that decisions about life and death — both ours and our dogs — are still our own, and that throwing in the towel, for financial reasons, or others, isn’t always a shameful choice.
We suspect Friess will receive some support for his decision, but will hear from many more questioning it. His decision to write about it, as he did in a post for Time.com, is brave, but also an open invitation to second-guessers. In any case, the decision on what’s best for Jack should be (and has been) made by the person who knows him best, and deserves to be respected
Friess, a freelance writer and co-host of The Petcast, said neither his advisers nor his vet seemed to be trying to make him feel guilty about his choice. But, as is the way with guilt trips, we often don’t need a tour guide. Feelings of shame can start as soon as we ask our vet the question Friess did:
“How much will it cost?”
For Friess, the estimate was a minimum of $5,000 — more than he and his partner had.
“(It) means we have about 30 days. The end will probably come in time for holidays … ”We’ve received a lot of advice, both solicited and unwelcome, through social media. Nobody comes right out to say it, but the disappointment some express at our decision shows that they question our love for Jack. In an era when people spend big on animal clothes, artisanal foods and medical intervention, and when medical science makes it possible to spend $5,000 so Jack dies slightly later than sooner, there is pressure to go as far as we can.”
There’s one more twist. Friess and his partner are trying to adopt a human baby, and they’re working on saving the $15,000 fee for that.
“If that $5,000 could cure the cancer and restore Jack’s full life expectancy, maybe we’d do it,” he wrote. “Maybe. It certainly would be a tougher choice. But to buy a year during which we’d be waiting for his lymph nodes to resume their swell? We could endure the end stages either now or later.”
(Photo of Jack by Steve Friess)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 17th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, cancer, care, chemotherapy, choices, costs, death, decisions, dog, dogs, financial, guilt, health care, jack, life, lymphoma, medical, options, ownership, pet, pets, shame, steve friess, technology, treatment, veterinary
A 9-month-old collie mix found last week in a garbage can in New Stanton, Pa., is now enjoying the things her former owner failed to provide — food, shelter and kindness among them.
She’s less frightened, spunkier and has gained 8 pounds since she was discovered by a garbage truck driver on his route on Oct. 30, with her head sticking out of a trash bag.
State police say the dog’s former owner, Nicole L. Baker, 50, of Hempfield, tortured the dog by withholding food for about six weeks before leaving the dog in the trash can on Oct. 27, when she moved to Texas to be with her boyfriend.
She has been charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a summary count of disorderly conduct.
Police say text messages sent by Baker indicate her actions went beyond neglect.
“Yeah, I am a bad person,” Baker wrote in a text-message response to a relative’s inquiry about the dog, who she called Mia, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“By reading through the messages and things of that nature, she had intentionally misled people that were offering to help when it came to taking care of Mia, the dog,” Trooper Stephen Limani said. “She acknowledged the fact that at some point in time, she realized what she was doing, she fully knew it was wrong, and still she put a dog, her dog, in a garbage can,”
Fawna was taken to the Humane Society of Westmoreland County and is now in foster care, TribLive.com reported.
“She’ll grab my hand with her mouth and play,” said veterinary technician Megan Fritz, who is fostering Fawna. “She’s finally starting to act like a dog.”
At first, Fawna was fed beef and rice every three to four hours, then graduated to lamb and rice dog food. She weighed 17 pounds when found, instead of a normal weight of about 50. She’s living with a Great Dane and three cats, and was recently taken on a shopping spree at Burton’s Total Pet in Greensburg, and went home with donated toys, sweaters and treats.
“She needs to feel safe and secure for a little while,” Fritz said. “I’m blown away by the amount of support and love that people are sending her way.”
Among those horrified by the dog’s condition was Baker’s daughter, Brittany Prinkey, who lives next door to the trailer where her mother lived before moving to Texas.
“I’m super upset with her. I just don’t understand how someone could do that,” Prinkey said in an interview with WTAE. ”I was so upset, I felt like I was going to throw up. I was so sick to my stomach about everything. I couldn’t believe it. That garbage can is right over there. I didn’t hear anything. No one heard anything. No one knew. It’s disgusting.”
Prinkey said she seldom sees her mother, and that the dog was healthy when she last saw her in July.
Prinkey said she has been subjected to harassment and threats since the dog was found. ”People have been throwing stuff at my house, at my car, threatening me, telling me I should die. I should be put in a trash bag and left to suffocate without food and water,” she said.
Humane Society officials said it will probably be two months before Fawna becomes eligible for adoption.
Donations to Fawna’s care can be mailed to the Westmoreland Humane Society: PO Box 1552, Greensburg, PA 15601.
(Photos: At top, State Trooper Steve Limani comforts Fawna at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg, by Steph Chambers / Trib Total Media; lower photo from Humane Society of Westmoreland County)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 7th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abandoned, animal cruelty, animals, charged, collie, dog, dogs, emaciated, fawna, found, humane society, mia, mix, new stanton, nicole baker, pennsylvania, pets, pup, puppy, starvation, starved, trash can, westmoreland county
Amid declining clothing sales to human customers, it’s turning to dog clothes, and releasing a new line of canine couture today called American Beagle Outfitters, Bloomberg reports.
But it did start out that way.
The American Beagle assortment began as an April Fool’s Day joke to raise money for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
But there was so much interest, the retailer decided to release a real line of canine clothing, including knit sweaters, puffer jackets and hats for dogs that match its holiday collection for people.
“Just in time for the holidays, you’ll be able to dress just like your best friend — man’s best friend that is,” Preston Konrad, style director at Pittsburgh-based American Eagle, said in a statement. “This fun collection reflects the iconic elements of the American Eagle Outfitters brand reimagined for our favorite furry friends.”
Like its peers in the teen-clothing business, American Eagle has seen slow sales — a phenomenon dog products seem to avoid. As the Bloomberg article points out, Americans were expected to fork over a whopping $350 million for pet costumes this Halloween.
With winter and Christmas on the way, pitching puffer jackets to pooch owners makes sense, at least from a business perspective.
Items in the limited-edition doggie collection will be available online and in select American Eagle stores, with prices ranging from $12.95 to $39.95.
(Photos: American Eagle Outfitters)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 6th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: american beagle outfitters, american eagle outfitters, animals, clothes, clothes for dogs, clothing, couture, dog, dog clothing, dogs, fashion, joke, line, pets, teens
Two University of Washington scientists think it might be possible to slow the aging process in canines and are launching a pilot study with 30 dogs to see if the drug rapamycin significantly extends their lifespans.
The researchers, using $200,000 in seed money from the University of Washington, plan to use pets, not laboratory animals, for the initial study, and recruit volunteer dogs — or at least dogs whose owners volunteer them — for larger scale studies in the future.
Daniel Promislow, an evolutionary geneticist, and Matthew Kaeberlein, a molecular biologist, say the study is aimed at determining whether rapamycin could lead to longer lives for dogs — as studies have shown is the case when it’s used on yeast, fruit flies, worms and mice.
“We’re not talking about doubling the healthy life spans of pets,” said Kaeberlein. “But at a minimum I would predict that you would get a 10 to 15 percent increase in average life span, and I think bigger effects are possible.”
In the pilot study, 30 large, middle-aged dogs will be involved — half receiving low doses of rapamycin, half receiving placebos.
The researchers say that subsequent studies will seek to enroll pet dogs from across the country.
Kaeberlein and Promislow hosted a meeting in Seattle last week where experts from across the country discussed the drug rapamycin and its possible effects on the health and longevity of dogs, the Seattle Times reported.
Currently used along with other medications to prevent rejection in organ-transplant patients, rapamycin has been called a promising anti-aging drug — though there have been no studies involving humans.
But almost 50 laboratory studies have shown that the compound can delay the onset of some diseases and degenerative processes and restore vigor to elderly animals, extending life spans by 9 to 40 percent.
Rapamycin functions, in part, by inactivating a protein that promotes cell growth. As a result, cells grow more slowly, which retards the spread of cancer.
Promislow, who has two elderly dogs of his own, noted that even if the drug doesn’t increase the life span of dogs, it could serve to keep them healthy longer. “We’re trying to understand why some dogs age better than others, and help all dogs age in a better way,” he said.
The drug has been shown to have serious side effects, including poor wound healing and an increased risk of diabetes, when used at the high doses required for organ transplant patients.
But the low doses used in anti-aging research with mice and other lab animals cause few side effects.
There have been no large-scale human trials. Studying how the drug affects dogs — who suffer many of the same old-age ailments as their masters — makes it possible to explore the possible benefits of rapamycin both more quickly and at a lesser cost.
If it does turn out to be a sort of fountain of youth — for dogs, humans, or both — the potential profits would be enormous.
“I think it’s worth a go, not just from what it can teach us about humans, but for the sake of the animals themselves,” said University of Alabama Biology Department Chairman Steven Austad, an expert in aging research who is not involved in the project. “It may not work in dogs, but if it did, boy, it’s going to be huge.”
According to the Seattle Times article, drug companies aren’t very interested in rapamycin because it’s no longer under patent.
But the researchers are hoping dog lovers, dog-food companies and some foundations might be willing to contribute to further research.
They’ve set up a website, dogagingproject.com,where people can donate and sign their dogs up to take part in the research.
“Given how I feel about my pets, I see this as a unique project where there’s a real potential for citizen science,” Kaeberlein said. “I think it would be great if pet owners who are really interested in improving the health of their animals would help fund this work.”
(Photos: UW scientists Matt Kaeberlein, with his dog Dobby, and Dan Promislow, with his dog Frisbee; by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 4th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anti aging, anti aging drug, biology, cancer, cells, citizen science, compound, Daniel Promislow, death, dog, dogs, drug, drugs, extending, fountain of youth, funding, geneticist, health, ifespan, laboratory, life, lifespans, lives, longer, Matthew Kaeberlein, molecular, pets, rapamycin, research, sickness, study, university of washington
They say everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, but when it comes to an Alabama dog named Pig, she seems to have gotten short-changed on that middle part.
Between her sizable head and her rear end, there’s not much real estate, and as a result of her abbreviated torso, taking her out in public has always led to a lot of stares, and a lot of questions — chief among them, “What kind of dog is that?”
What accounts for Pig’s unusual appearance is called short spine syndrome, a birth defect that prevents the spine from fully forming and often makes everyday tasks — like running, jumping and eating — difficult.
Dogs with the disorder — though it can compress their organs and lead to health problems as they grow — generally can lead normal lives, and reach their full life expectancy.
They can also, as in Pig’s case, become international celebrities.
Pig developed a large following after appearing at this year’s Do Dah Day festival in Birmingham. She was featured in a story on AL.com, and her Facebook page, “Pig the Unusual Dog,” created in June, has more than 76,500 followers.
Now, following up on just what it is that makes Pig Pig, AL.com reports that her owner, Kim Dillenbeck of Helena, has received the results of a DNA test she had conducted on the dog to determine what breeds are in her.
A Wisdom Panel test says Pig is a Boxer, Chow Chow, American Staffordshire Terrier mix.
Dillenbeck who has heard guesses ranging from her dog being half rabbit to half not there, was surprised by the results.
“Everybody thought Akita,” Dillenbeck said. “I was was thinking something like a smaller dog, but I was wide open … Pig has all these interesting traits, and there are so many breeds out there.”
Other breeds showing up in the test results as possibilities include Portuguese Water Dog, Alaskan Klee Kai, Scottish deerhound, Lakeland terrier and Maltese.
Pig weighs in at just 16 pounds, much less than one of her siblings, who doesn’t have the disorder and weighs just under 40 pounds.
Dillenbeck’s experience with Pig led her to form the nonprofit Pig’s Foundation to help raise funds for people and organizations rescuing animals. Another mission of the foundation is to raise awareness that animals who look unusual can still have a happy life.
“Pig is her own breed,” Dillenbeck said. “To me, she is just one in a million. As much as I can see her potential in all these breeds, she is still just Pig.”
(Photos: Mark Almond / AL.com)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 31st, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, american staffordshire terrier, animals, birmingham, birth defect, boxer, breed, breeds, chow chow, dna, dog, dogs, helena, pets, pig, short spine, short spine syndrome, shortened, spine, test, wisdom panel
The British press, which is very good at speculating, is suggesting Isis, the Labrador retriever in Downton Abbey, might soon be departing.
And all because of her name.
Lord Grantham’s dog, Isis — named after the Egyptian princess — could be taken off the show to avoid any further association to the jihadist group ISIS.
Downton Abbey’s fifth season is currently airing in the U.K., and in the most recent episode Lord and Lady Grantham made reference to the dog appearing “terribly listless.”
“I wonder if she’s picked up a germ” says Lady Mary at one point. “Maybe she’s eaten a squirrel.”
According to The Independent, an ITV rep said in a statement that the dog’s name is an “unfortunate coincidence.” The terrorist group was not yet using that name when writers began working on season five, the representative said.
But the rep wouldn’t comment on whether Isis may be leaving the cast.
While the show is in its fifth season, it has covered a 12-year time span. And given the dog was an adult when she first appeared, her death — the death of her character, we mean — wouldn’t be that out of the blue.
It wouldn’t be the first television program to make changes since the terrorist group came on the radar.
The FX series “Archer” got rid of its spy agency ISIS, “Doctor Who” edited a beheading scene and Fox apologized for a poorly timed “Sleepy Hollow” ad campaign.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: death, death of isis, dog, downton abbey, dying, group, isis, isis the dog, ITV, jihadist, leaving, lord grantham, television, terrorist
Hector, a pit bull rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring, has died of cancer at his Minnesota home.
One of 51 dogs rescued from Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, Hector was rehabilitated at Bad Rap and, about a year later, adopted by new owners, Roo and Clara Yori in Rochester.
During the six years he spent with them he became a therapy dog, visiting local nursing homes and hospitals.
About a month ago, Hector was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
In recent weeks, his owners twice scheduled appointments to have Hector put down, but both times they backed out.
This week, as his suffering intensified, they went through with it, according to Hector’s Facebook page.
The Yori’s placed this post on that page Tuesday, written from Hector’s point of view:
“Hello everyone. Unfortunately my time has come, and if you’re reading this, that means that I have already passed. My last day was as good as one could ask for. The sun was shining, the frogs were out for me to chase at the pond, and I had Roo and Clara to carry me off the trail when my legs just couldn’t go any further. I called shotgun to assume my co-pilot position on the way to the vet, where I passed away surrounded by people who love me.
I think my past life caught up with me and caused my time to come a little early. However, I can proudly say that I gave it everything I had all the way until the end. To my Vick Dog family, and all the other dogs rescued from similar cruelty situations, keep carrying the torch! There are a lot of dogs out there that still need help, so keep proving they deserve their chance through our success…
“Please remember that dogs don’t really have a choice on where they end up, and some really good dogs end up in a bad spot through no fault of their own. Before you pass judgement, give them a chance to show who they are regardless of appearance or past life. You never know how it will turn out…”
(Photos: Hector on his final hike, from his Facebook page)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 29th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopted, animals, bad newz kennels, bad rap, cancer, clara yori, dead, death, died, dies, dog, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, former vick dogs, hector, michael vick, pets, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, pitbulls, rehabilitated, rescued, roo yori, seized, vick dogs, yori